Ireland has powered literary production for centuries. Currently the landscape and lore seem to be inspiring a fictional crime wave as these five series attest. From gritty to cozy, contemporary to historical, there is a mystery for all who want to spend time on the Emerald Isle.
- Scandal in Skibbereen (County Cork, Bk. 2) by Sheila Connolly (Berkley).
The mysterious death of a gardener working at the local manor house, a pushy New York City art figure, and the hunt for a lost van Dyck painting fuel this well-set and nicely paced cozy. It is the second of the series (after Buried in a Bog), which center on an American expat running a pub in a small Irish village.
- Broken Harbor by Tana French (Penguin Pr.).
The fourth of the loosely bound Dublin Murder Squad novels is extraordinary, filled with complex characters, nuanced story building, and vividly evoked settings. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, who appeared in A Faithful Place, investigates a brutal triple murder in one of Dublin’s many abandoned housing developments, those that went bust during the recession. Its location has a hold over Mick as well, and his current case brings forth memories of his past.
- The Book of Killowen (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire, Bk. 4) by Erin Hart (Scribner).
Wonderfully set, richly evoked, lushly detailed, and beautifully written, Hart’s fourth novel in her series following Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin focuses on the murder of a TV talk show host whose body was found with the corpse of a ninth-century monk dug out of a bog. The case leads Nora and Cormac to Killowen, an artists’ colony full of suspects and secrets.
- The Nameless Dead (Inspector Devlin, Bk. 5) by Brian McGilloway (Pan Macmillan).
This moody and smart procedural, set on the borderlands between Northern Ireland and Ireland, begins with the search for one of the many killed during the conflicts but turns into an investigation of a murdered baby. Insp. Benedict Devlin is ordered not to follow the case, but he ignores the injunction and hits the streets in search of justice, putting much at risk. This is the fifth in the series that began with Borderlands.
- In the Morning I’ll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street).
The 1980s-set “Troubles” trilogy concludes with this brilliant mix of gritty procedural and clever locked-room mystery. Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop out of sorts with the Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is offered a bargain by MI5: if he tracks down Dermot McCann, a childhood friend who is now a wanted IRA bomber, he can get some of his shine back. The search leads Sean to Dermot’s ex-mother-in-law, who offers her own bargain—she will give up McCann’s location if Duffy solves the mystery surrounding the death of her daughter.